PoTM: Pseudowintera colorata ‘Red Leopard’

Very many years ago when I lived in Kent I joined the Steering Committee of the Hardy Plant Society for the new Kent Group. Our chairman held a festive lunch for the committee at Christmas and on the table she had placed a small jug of flowers and foliage. Committee members to a man and woman immediately pressed around to identify the twigs, of which there was a surprising number for December.

Of course we had no difficulty with the obvious winter lovelies, but there was one sprig that had all of us completely foxed. We each had suggestions, far off the mark. But among those ten plantsmen and women, not one could identify Pseudowintera colorata.

It is a stunning little shrub that gets even more colourful in winter. Related to Pittosporumit has typical black, twiggy stems and evergreen leaves with white reverses. But the surface colour is a unique shade of green-yellow, verging on light khaki. In winter the leaves develop coral-red margins and in the selection P. colorata ‘Red Leopard’, vermilion spots appear on the most exposed leaves.

It is small, borderline hardy, and perfect for a pot in a sheltered place in the winter sun.

Sally Gregson

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